Renforshort, known offstage as Lauren Isenberg, has always gravitated towards music, from a young age finding solace in musical visionaries such as Nirvana, Amy Winehouse and Billy Joel. Beginning her career at just 16 and later pulling in audiences and pulling on heartstrings with her singles ‘fuck, I luv my freinds’, ‘waves’ and ‘mind games’, the indie-pop artist has become known for tackling mental health issues and messy relationships head-on with her punchy power ballads, reminiscent of Demi Lovato’s early rock-tinged pop.
Highly anticipated debut album ‘Dear Amelia’ takes a dive into Isenberg’s brain, reading somewhat like a lovesick diary in a tearjerker romance movie, painting a story of the highs and lows of love and self image in a time when youth has become a painfully self-aware experience.
Digging deeper on Isenberg’s social media reveals a series of letters written to ‘Amelia’ an unknown entity who receives regular and somewhat cryptic updates on Isenberg’s troubles and triumphs.
Providing a sweetly bitter beginning and setting the tone for the album, ‘I miss myself’ introduces Isenberg’s distinctly poignant lyrical prowess with an Avril Lavigne-like outpouring of thought. Saturated vocals tinged with remorse echo out over simple strummed chords and strangled piano, leading us to wonder if the rest of the album will keep this pace and become more of a crying-under-your-kitchen-table kind of deal.
‘Not my friend’ and ‘made for you’ provide easily digestible soft-pop melodies, though sonically they lack the punch of some others on the album, the production falling a little flat on the former and providing the ebb and flow of the track list with a little too much ebb. What none of the songs lack, however, is impressive emotional depth; willingness to deal with hard truths surrounding toxic relationships and self-image in both relatable and well articulated ways shows the fruits of a childhood infused with the music of lyrical legends.
‘We’ll make this okay’ ft travis barker is a contagiously catchy release, clocking in rightfully as one of the three singles from the album. While some remain critical of Barker’s apparent mission to usher in the new and somehow shinier age of pop-punk with his many recent collaborations, there is something to be said about his roster. Renforshort joins the likes of Willow Smith, Tyler Posey and a select few more in a re-interpretation of the sad-rock sound. Infused with sonic and lyrical influences influences pulled from everything from Hannah Diamond twinkling hyperpop to Oliver Tree’s multilayered emotional chorus’, suspiciously happy synth arpeggios clang merrily in the foreground. Coupled with satisfying butter smooth transitions between chorus and verses, all surround the catchy lyrical hook ‘we fight, we fuck, we kiss, we hug’. Reaching a climax similar to a balloon full of glitter exploding in a quiet room, it’s the small details that stylistically push this song over the bar.
This smooth alt-pop style echoes pleasingly around the track list, with ‘Mosh Pit’ and ‘I thot you were cool’ tracks that bring a visceral up in the energy that could even be pushed further.
Renforshort makes herself heard with ‘Dear Amelia’, providing herself with a solid foundation to build upon style and heart and providing comfort for the wounded. A clear understanding is passed between artist and listener, Isenberg creates things that are important to her; inevitably they’ll become important to many others.
Words: Oshen Douglas-McCormick